Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Its the community, not the source

"What's really interesting about open source companies is not particularly the fact that we give away our source code. It's not the source code that's magic here. What I think is real impressive is the community and the value of that community." says Mike Olsen, CEO of Sleepycat in a recent interview. That fits well with the article I have written for the EOSJ - its exactly the argument I make when I discuss what the community is and how enterprises can evaluate communities.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Happy birthday, Oliver

When I was a kid, we only had one phone, and it was my dads business- as well as our private number. It had one of these round analog dials, no redial of course. I could never talk longer than a few minutes because the phone was mission critical to my dad's business. We had a three digit number ("420" for those that are into these details). This has been the only means of communication besides face-to-face conversation or writing letters until I finally had access to email at the university - which was of little use initially, since everyone else I knew who had access to email was sitting next to me in the same computer lab anyways.

Today, my 3 year old daugher is using one of my three iPods, our 12-year old has his own mobile, we have wireless lan, 2 fixed lines phone (ISDN), a couple of mobile numbers, skype, and iChat AV. My brother lives on the other side of the earth, and I am working with an international community to create free software that is downloaded to the thousands every month from all over the planet.

I just talked for about 45 minutes on Skype with my brother in New Zealand - his birthday today, but our thoughts were with the world's most pressing problems no less. So while we are busy consuming 20 tons of material per capita and year (thats for the USA, not Switzerland, ok?) and talk about a simpler way of sustainable living, he is currently host to Alexander von Fegesack, director of the vitra design museum in Weil - thats just 5 minutes by car from where I live, but he is at my brothers place, which is roughly 18'000 kilometers away from here, in Auckland, NZ.

Later our mam joined in a skype conference call and we sang "happy birthday" - once around the globe.

It never stops to amaze me how much the world - and our lifes - have changed in the last 25 years. What will we be doing 25 years from now?

Monday, November 14, 2005

past events and coming attractions

Since my last blog entry, three intensive weeks have passed. I have worked on an article for the Enterprise Open Source Journal about open source community evaluation, which is where all my writing energy went for the last weeks. I will update this entry as soon as the article is published.

In addition, Alex - new committer to the Magnolia project -- was in Basel for a week of in-depth work on Magnolia, getting to know the team and - together with Sameer - hacking away on incrementational, transactional activation. In plain words, this will allow Magnolia's subscription mechanism to be guaranteed and have a much smaller footprint. Since activation mechanisms are pluggable, its cool finally somebody makes use of it!

The week with Alex was great fun - if you have read my introduction of Alex on the dev-list, you guess how it ended - a great Friday night out with Sameer, Philipp, Alex and Yours Truly. I guess it was especially worth it for Philipp, since he transmogrified to Father of a little girl a couple of days later, and I just have the feeling that going out will not be high on his list of priorities in the immediate future.

So Alex is back to Rumania, and last week saw Nicolas coming from Japan to join us on defining workflow integration of openWFE and Magnolia. John from openWFE joined us as well for a day, and I was busy doing other things - what a pity, since openWFE integration is a brainchild of mine.

Both Alex and Nicolas are great additions to the Magnolia community. Now I am contemplating the idea of formalizing these events - along the lines that one person from the community joins obinary for a week to work on a specific project. Call it "Nerds in Residence" and try to find sponsors (I already contacted one hotel about it, lets see what they think of the idea). It seems like a great way to build up the core community - there is a lot of potential in the idea. Think cultural exchange, bringing Basel or Switzerland closer to the hearts of an international community, doing good for those from contries far away that could not otherwise finance a trip outside their country. It should be possible to find a few sponsors that agree that this is pretty cool - Basel has a long history if sponsoring, especially in arts - its kunstmuseum (a magnolia site, of course ;-)) is the first ever public municipal museum.

In the meantime I have launched the first productive installation of the software that shall become "Magnolia For Electronic Form Workflow" one day - much to the customers delight. This application is not quite ready for prime time, too many things are specialized for the customers need, but the GUI of the web-based form builder is pretty powerful, and the connection of Magnolia with openWFE and a flexible GUI form builder makes it possible to do pretty much anything that requires forms and a workflow in a fast and elegant way.

Finally, last Wednesday saw the installation of Magnolia For Business Processes at a new customers site - we have changed quite a few parts once more, and I have to say that it finally is getting into a very usable and understandable state. I am looking forward to that release!